NYC Marathon Team Spot Check-In: Laura McLaughlin

1. Tell us a little bit about how you came to be involved with NBR. What was your first run? How long have you been involved?  

I first joined NBR about six months after graduating college and moving to Bushwick. In early January of 2017, I impulsively googled “free running clubs in New York” – and the rest is history. That fateful, first run was with the Narwhals. The forecast called for a snowstorm at 10AM, long after the run’s conclusion, so I thought I could get away with shorts and a cotton sweatshirt. (Important context: I’m from California, so this whole “winter” exercise concept was quite new to me.) But the snow started far earlier than expected. Pretty quickly, I lost all feeling in my hands; by mile 5 my eyelashes were effectively frozen together. After 11 miles, I hobbled back over to my car, frigid but happy. However, I was dismayed to learn that I lacked the dexterity to retrieve my car keys from my shorts pocket. I ended up waiting a small eternity in the falling snow for sensation to come back. Despite the miserable experience that was thawing out (picture me, teeth chattering, frantically waving my hands in front of the heating vents), I was hooked. I couldn’t wait for my next NBR run.

2. How is marathon training going? Are there any specific workouts that are really moving things along for you? Tell the world a good NBR long run story.

I started marathon training reluctantly. In June, the prospect of four months of 40+ mile weeks felt nothing short of daunting. But I’ve gotten back into the long run groove, and am starting to re-discover some of my favorite routes. It’s safe to say that I’m stoked to be training again. 

I’m using the Pfitizinger 18 week 55 mile/week plan for the first time. I’ve particularly enjoyed the medium long runs that incorporate about ten 100m strides for a little added speedwork. It feels great to switch up the long run monotony – and the sprints are so short! By the time you realize it’s painful, the interval is over. I think the point of these workouts is to strengthen different muscles and improve overall running form.

As for my favorite NBR long run: this past fall, I ran up to the Bronx to cheer on the Percy Sutton 5k Racers. It was one of my first-ever 19-20 milers and I felt great the whole way. The run was the first time I’d traveled that far north in the city (I’d never set foot the Bronx!) Plus, there was an excellent crew that ran for the entirety of the mileage – among them, Toni, Ashley, Chris and Angel. But ultimately, the beauty of the run was that it was wholly uneventful – a few hours of pure bliss on a beautiful fall morning.

3. Which NBR runs are you attending regularly to train? Are there any NBR members who inspire you to train hard (er)?

I’m one of the leaders for the Wednesday Night Road Run (come out! We have a good time! I’m not biased!) It’s a nice mid-week ~5 mile run, onto which I can easily tack on extra miles to meet my training needs. Of course, I love the Saturday Narwhals run and try to go every weekend I’m in town. Narwhals and Sunday Funday are two of my favorite runs – not only do you discover new routes in the city, but the run easily doubles as a nice 3-hour chat with an NBR member you’ve never met. I also love the Bridge run because – well, coffee.

There are so many inspirational people in NBR. Without them ALL, I would have never considered (or been able to complete!) a marathon last year or think about another one this year. One of the most inspirational people that comes to mind is Toni Mayo. We started running long runs together last year, but now she just blows me out of the park. She’s willing to log hard, sweaty miles to meet her goals, and it clearly pays off. I’m hoping she runs Chicago so well that she’ll slow down to pace me for NY. 

And of course, I have to give a shout out to Yvan, who invariably tells me I can run faster (even when I’m not so convinced myself).

4. What does it mean to be chosen by your peers for a coveted NBR marathon team spot? 

Being chosen for an NBR marathon team spot is a simultaneously humbling and terrifying experience. There are so many inspirational people on the team - people who show you what the human body is capable of.  They make New York ( especially North Brooklyn) feel more like a small town than a major city – whether in Central Park or Williamsburg, I can’t go on a run without bumping into familiar faces. Somehow, a love for running has forged the most eclectic, adventurous and welcoming community of which I’ve had the opportunity to be a part. It means the world to me to be able to represent this singular NBR community in November.

5. What do you plan on eating post-marathon? What about the night before?

The night before, I plan on eating a huge bowl of ramen – the perfect carb-heavy meal for a fall day. Afterwards, you’ll find me eating my weight in fried plantains.

6. What inspires and motivates you to run this year's NYC marathon?

My biggest inspiration to run this year’s marathon is my love of the city – specifically, my love of running in this city. Before joining NBR, my knowledge of New York was limited to a half mile radius around my apartment in Bushwick. Running with the club has allowed me to experience NYC in a completely distinct and intimate way. The marathon, which will take me through all 5 boroughs, seems like the perfect opportunity to showcase my love for my adopted home.

7. In your head, what celebrity do you think you most resemble when you're running?

I had to consult outside sources for a suitable answer to this question, but perhaps Hillary Swank? That’s the comparison I get most often. Not that I’m complaining - I’ll watch “Million Dollar Baby” the night before for motivation.